Canning Stock Route - Durba to Savory Creek via the incredible Diebil Hills.

Wednesday, Jun 06, 2007 at 00:00

Mick O

Wednesday 6th June, 2007
Southern end of Lake Disappointment
Savory Creek
Canning stock Route WA.

A fair days travel was achieved today. We were up at a reasonable hour and had breakfast by the fire. We tried valiantly to burn the last of our firewood but short of a towering inferno, decided to leave a few logs for those who come next. I managed to finish the rinsing of the washing that had been left to soak overnight and hung it out to dry. A stiff wind and some sunlight saw it nearly dry before we left.


Having virtualy unpacked the whole vehicle for yesterdays Calvert excursion, it took some time to reorganize everything back into its proper place. We were carrying a fair bit of rubbish, namely glass so that was all shoved in the rear tyre bag. The road north from Durba was again an entirely different terrain. We made good time initially but then we became mired in a hodgepodge of dunes. It was fantastic driving but slow with lots of soft sand, dune crossings and sudden right hand turns on the dune approach. Often we would track along a dune before crossing and then heading back on the opposite side. They dunes were a lot closer together than previously so it was time consuming work.


It was only 20 kilometres to the Diebil Hills turnoff and on reaching the “T”, we made the 18 km detour westwards. For a change we paralleled the dunes for 12 km and then, what a sight! From the usual vista of spinifex covered sandhills, a range of rocky hills just emerge from the sand, and I mean EMERGE! Like the ramparts of some long buried city, the sands just fall away from these rocky abutments that just swell into jagged saw tooth ranges. You have no warning of their arrival until you drive through two dunes that are like a low wide gateway and there in front of you is the range. We were both gob smacked! The ranges continue to grow in size until they are more spectacular than the Durba hills. Again their base comprises steep scree slopes of jagged rock dotted with huge boulders that have fallen from the cliffs above. In many places the bottom most sections of rock have slipped away leaving rock layers above hanging unsupported and forming a huge cavern, a portico almost. It looks like the work of some giant, mad stone mason. Several times we crossed rocky rises to pass thru gorges or passes into the back of the range. The worn rocks looking ancient and often revealing their history as a sea floor, wave patterns being apparent in what is now a fossilised sea floor. One particular area of rock face was striated in many different hues of red, white, black and orange.




We made our way to the end of the track where allegedly exists the Diebil spring. The site is a long gorge that cuts its way into the range. As it narrows, the floor is strewn with the huge boulders that have fallen from on high. I walked well into the gorge but couldn’t find any sign of a spring. Hugh didn’t make the distance so returned and got a cuppa ready. The view back down the gorge and across the plains to the west was worth any effort. It was very special. Rugged, fascinating, mesmerizing!



We had a cuppa at the vehicle before heading back out to the Canning. Hugh, the forgetful was later to realise that he had left his blue polar fleece jacket hanging somewhere near were we had parked the vehicle (If anyone reading this has found it…please email me! It had his compass in the pocket as well!) We had to backtrack to the CSR and once back on the Canning again, it was that winding slow process through the dunes and crossing the occasional salt flat and samphire clad pad. Well 18 had been fully restored but for the first time there was not a sign of animal life about. Not a bird chirping, lizard scurrying or the tracks of the many night critters that normally inhabit this desert environment. Zip, nada, nothing! Well 19 was in ruins. Between the two we passed our first south bound travellers. 3 crazy Krauts or similar on motorbikes and two backup vehicles without radios. We had the pleasure of seeing one rider face plant into the sand as he tried to get off the road (not heavily mind you). The track was very scenic with groves of desert oak punctuating the dune slacks. I think they have been the most abundant of anywhere on the trip so far.


We decided to push on to Savory creek which we crossed without having to backtrack. Though there was plenty of water in it, the Savory would provide no succour to any living thing as it is more bloody salty than the ocean. We have camped under desert oaks at a campsite marked on the Hema maps……a BIG mistake! Should have followed my gut instincts and pulled over earlier into one of the desert oak groves along the way. It is our worst campsite to date and there is simply no timber about. I presume that most travellers must stop here explaining the paucity of firewood! Hugh displayed much joy on returning to camp with a sizable piece of wood that some kind soul had left behind for us. Thank god as it became the centre piece of our fire. Being on the shores of lake disappointment, the wind drives in from the lake with very little to slow it down. We have used the vehicle as a wind break for the tent. It was simple fare of soup and toast for dinner with the heavily rationed remnants of our scotch. One bottle to go. It was a great sunset, one to be enjoyed.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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